RBC Training Ground tryouts go virtual on Island and elsewhere in Canada

While it’s too late to begin the identification process to join the 75 or more Island-based athletes expected to compete next summer in the delayed 2020 Tokyo Olympics, the 2024 Paris and 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games beckon if you have what it takes.

All aspirants are welcome as the RBC Training Ground program, in keeping with pandemic protocols, has gone virtual this year in its hunt to discover new Olympic talent.

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Canadians ages 14 to 25, from any sporting or physical activity background, can try to impress RBC Training Ground scouts online beginning today. Those who think they have the right stuff can go to RBCTrainingGround.ca for instructions on how to complete program testing virtually and upload results through video and an online portal.

Hopefuls will perform basic speed, power, strength and endurance tests at home and submit their results online for assessment by Olympic talent scouts. Testing can be completed either indoors or outdoors on any hard level surface of 50 metres or longer — a track is ideal — along with floor or road space of three metres by three metres. The deadline for submissions is Dec. 1.

This isn’t just a stab in the dark. Previous RBC Training Ground walk-on camps held across the country have been in-person prior to COVID, including one held annually at CARSA Gym at the University of Victoria, and the cold-calls have proven productive.

A feature which has emerged is athletes being re-directed from their former sports to sports better suited to their physical metrics. World record-setting track cyclist and Tokyo Olympics medal hopeful Kelsey Mitchell was a University of the Fraser Valley Cascades soccer defender when she was redirected to the velodrome following an RBC Training Ground event on the Lower Mainland in 2017.

Among those training for the Tokyo Olympics who were discovered or redirected from a Victoria Training Ground camp is rower Avalon Wasteneys of Campbell River, who grew up skiing cross-country on Mount Washington. Other Tokyo Games aspirants for Canada discovered through the tryout camps include Lauriane Genest for track cycling, Gabrielle Smith for rowing and Pierce LePage in decathlon.

More than 8,500 hopefuls have gone through the Training Ground camps in just the four years since the program was established in 2016, with about 1,000 of them identified as high potential. Of that total, 117 have been selected to advance as funded athletes through the next-stage RBC Future Olympians program.

“RBC Training Ground … has had a tremendous impact on the sport system in Canada,” said David Shoemaker, CEO and secretary general of the Canadian Olympic Committee, in a statement.

“The virtual qualifying format not only prioritizes the health and safety of everyone involved but is one more way for national sport organizations to find talent and help those athletes determine if their abilities could make them a valuable addition to Team Canada’s talent pipeline.”

If aspirants have friends or family members willing to hold a video camera or phone to record, who knows, they could be on their way to the Olympic podium.

cdheeensaw@timescolonist.com

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